Tom Brady wasn’t on the New England Patriots’ injury report as of Friday, but could the knee injury that was listed early in the season still be bothering the 41-year-old quarterback?

That’s what NFL Media’s Mike Giardi believes.

“His lower half has been off, dating back to Tennessee. I would not be surprised when all is said and done that we hear something about either — I’m guessing it’s an MCL,” Giardi said Wednesday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich.” “I’m saying he has a tear or a partial tear of the MCL, and that’s why he’s still playing.”

Giardi specified that’s what he believes and that it’s not coming from someone within the Patriots organization.

An opposing player told NESN.com after the Patriots lost to the Tennessee Titans in Week 10 that he heard Brady injured his knee in the game. Brady stayed down after banging his knee on the turf while catching a pass from wide receiver Julian Edelman on a gimmick play.

Brady was listed on the injury report following the Patriots’ Week 11 bye. He last was listed on the Patriots’ injury report Wednesday, Dec. 5.

If Brady is not limited in practice and is expected to keep playing, the Patriots are not required to list him on their injury report even if he’s dealing with an ailment.

“Go back to the moment in the Dolphins game that Joe Giza captured or their photographer captured with Channel 4,” Giardi continued. “When he comes off the field after the touchdown to Gronk and all of a sudden he just drops to the ground and he’s clearly in pain. He was adjusting his knee brace, but when you have an MCL issue, a lot of times you have to bend the knee brace on purpose because of where the knee brace rubs up against the knee.

“I’m just wondering if it all of a sudden found that sore spot where the MCL is, and he had to go down to the turf and move it away from it so it wasn’t rubbing up against the area.”

Giardi went on to explain how he thinks Brady’s knee injury is limiting him on the field.

“For starters, and we’ve kind of made a big deal out of the last throw (in the Patriots’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers) and him bailing out,” Giardi said. “He’s done that now repeatedly over the last month, and that’s not who he is. It’s always to the same side. He’s not fading to the other side. He’s fading to the same side.

“He’s basically surrendering his left leg, and I think there have been times when he’s almost relying too much on his arm and not his lower half. I’ve seen him make throws where he’s not bringing his lower body into it. He’s not stepping forward into it because he doesn’t want to risk the front side of his body taking hits there. There’s been some points where protection isn’t great, so I think there’s definitely something going on.”

Brady was 25 of 36 for 279 yards with a touchdown and an interception Sunday in the Patriots’ loss to the Steelers. Brady was 16 of 20 early in Week 14 against the Miami Dolphins but was just 11 of 23 in that game after adjusting his knee brace.

It’s possible Brady just has some typical bumps and bruises this season. Or maybe he suffered something a little more severe against the Titans. Regardless, don’t expect to see Brian Hoyer starting at quarterback anytime soon for the Patriots.

Thumbnail photo via Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports Images